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Hope grows for Madiba's recovery

Well-wishes from around the world continue to pour in.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela in September 1990. Picture: AFP/Alexander Joe

JOHANNESBURG/PRETORIA - Hope is growing that Nelson Mandela will continue to make progress after President Jacob Zuma said he is responding well to treatment for a recurring lung infection.

The former president was admitted to a Pretoria hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It is his fourth stay in hospital since December 2012.

Scores of people have been stopping by the Mediclinic Heart Hospital to wish him well, including a group of hymn singers, who say they'll continue singing and praying for Madiba as long as he remains in the facility.

Meanwhile, for the first time since Madiba's hospitalisation, the Mandela family expressed gratitude to the nation for its outpouring of support.

Speaking outside Mandela's Houghton home in northern Johannesburg on Wednesday afternoon Madiba's grandson Mandla said the family was overwhelmed and deeply touched.

"We want to say thank you and we appreciate all your support."

He also thanked the team of doctors treating his grandfather and praised government for handling the logistics.

"My grandfather is the father of the nation. He's embraced by the global community and we appreciate the support that we've received."

Mandla would not discuss the 94-year-old's condition.

PARLIAMENT

Earlier on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma told Members of Parliament that Mandela is responding well to treatment and government is satisfied with his progress.

Wednesday also marked the anniversary of Mandela's sentencing to life imprisonment.

"On this crucial, historical anniversary, our thoughts are with Mandela and his family," Zuma said.

EASTERN CAPE

As Mandela recovers in hospital, an Eastern Cape tribal council member has told Eyewitness News he remembers Madiba having a mischievous side to him.

Madiba spent a few of his teenage years Qokolweni outside Mthatha and also went to school there.

The ailing statesman often returned in later life to the village as he built a house there for his sister.

Respected elder Clarence Tyopo said Madiba often teased his sister.

"This one time Tata Madiba stole a princess' calabash and drank all the sour milk. The princess cried. He consoled her and said, 'Whatever I get I will give you. When I get everything, I will give you.'

"When the princess saw her father she started crying loudly and when he asked what's wrong she said 'He stole my calabash' and he was given a hiding."

Tyopo said Madiba never forgot the place of his childhood.

"He likes this place. He used to come here all the time when he was still healthy and he wouldn't miss a funeral here."

The respected elder said elderly residents are especially more comfortable after improvements were made by Madiba himself.

"Cleaning is his initiative. The school, even this tar road - Madiba improved this place."